Have you ever been to a Christmas party where it was just you and maybe one or two other people? Have you ever hosted a Christmas party where it’s just you and maybe one or two people? That’s awkward, isn’t it? The decorations are out, the music is playing, the appetizers and desserts are sitting on the counter, there’s a big punch bowl in the corner … but it feels like the party can’t really begin until the other guests arrive!
As we make our way through the gospel of Luke this month, we’ll see that truth over and over again in the Christmas narratives. Luke seems to be telling us, “It’s not really Christmas until all the guests arrive!” When Mary sang the Magnificat, her amazing song of God’s faithfulness, she wasn’t alone! According to Luke, she was with her cousin Elizabeth. (Luke 1:39-56) When John the Baptist was born, Luke tells us, “Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her.” (Luke 1:57-58) When Jesus was born, his birth was celebrated by “a multitude of the heavenly host.” (Luke 2:13) When the shepherds heard the good news, they all went to Bethlehem together! (Luke 2:15-16)
This month, we’re going to be celebrating Christmas – the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. That celebration begins on Sunday, December 2nd, with the first Sunday of Advent. We have our annual Pinewoods Christmas Party on December 8th. For our students, there will be a Youth Group Christmas Party on December 16th and a Winter Break Kickoff Party on December 21st. We’re going to have a special Christmas Eve “Lessons and Carols” service on December 24th. And that’s just scratching the surface! There will be Life Group celebrations and Sunday School celebrations … our children will be getting into the Christmas spirit with special Sunday School lessons and activities!
It’s a busy time of year. I get it! But it’s also a time of joy and celebration! If you want to make the most of this Christmas season, we want to encourage you to come out and celebrate with us! But don’t come alone. Bring your neighbors to an event. Invite someone to a Sunday morning Advent service. If you have out-of-town family with you, bring them along to the Christmas Party!
The party isn’t really a party until all the guests arrive. The party isn’t really a party until YOU arrive! I’m looking forward to a great December, Pinewoods. I’m looking forward to Christmas music, Christmas decorations, Christmas joy and cheer … but I’m mostly looking forward to celebrating the birth of our Savior with you!
God has done such an amazing thing. Philippians 2:7-11 tells us that Jesus “emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” That’s the wonder of the incarnation. That’s the miracle of Christmas. But it gets even better! “And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” On the cross, Jesus took our place. He died the death we deserved to die so that we can live the life Jesus deserved to live – a life of everlasting joy and peace in perfect communion with God!
That’s something to celebrate! “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” Every knee shall bow! Every voice shall sing for joy! Will you join us?
Merry Christmas! Pastor Joel